“…for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” I Corinthians 3:17b
As I mentioned near the beginning of this book, the temple was a special building, not because of the physical building, but because of the awesome special Person who dwelt within. We need to be continually aware that our hearts are a special place because of the awesome special Person who dwells within. As we live as God’s temple day by day, we need to be aware of what we bring into His presence. God sees what we see. He hears what we hear. He is with us wherever we may go. Things are not the same as they were before we came to know Him. His Holy Spirit makes us sensitive to sin in our lives.
In the Old Testament, the words HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD wereinscribed on the high priest’s clothing. Holiness means special, set apart from sin unto God. No one else was to wear this inscription. The words were to be used only on the high priest’s clothing. When Jesus, our High Priest, came to earth, He was the only One who could rightfully claim that inscription. Among all men, He alone was holy. When Christ came to earth, He came to make us holy unto God.
“And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:” Colossians 1:21, 22
God wants all men who trust in Jesus to be holy in His sight. Through the work of Christ, God wants the average guy to wear the inscription HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD in his heart. We see God expressing this in the book of Zechariah chapter 14 and verse 21 where God looks forward to the day when “…every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the Lord of hosts…” No matter how common we might be, God wants to make us a holy vessel unto the Lord. Do we go about our lives with an awareness that we are to be holy and set apart unto God?
It is a special thing to have God within. The heart where Christ is dwelling is a holy place. Do we give God the gifts of sacrifices we talked about in the last chapter? Do we reverence and worship in His presence?
How can a Christian watch more than a couple minutes of many television shows without realizing that this type of material is not fit to bring into the presence of God? (Perhaps God would have us sacrifice our television to Him.) How can we read a magazine that we would not bring into the presence of God? How can we speak words that we would not speak in the presence of God, for God is with us always? Striving to protect the holiness of the presence of God in our lives will cause us to live a different kind of life, a pure life, a life of love for God and others.
“But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” I Peter 1:15, 16
The temple of God is a special place. In respect for the God who dwells within us, we need to take special care to keep it clean. If our temple does become dirty, then we need to turn away from that sin that we have smeared on our lives, stop doing it, and ask the Lord to forgive and cleanse our hearts.
Some years ago our church purchased a new sign and installed it out by the road. The sign has removable letters so that the message can be easily changed. There is a man in our church who faithfully changes the sign each week to say something different. The letters are stored at the front of the church; and he goes out an exit near the front of the auditorium to change the letters. One week when the sign was just recently installed, it had rained, and he forgot that his shoes had mud on them. He tracked all the way across the new carpet leaving a trail of footprints without even realizing it. After the footprints were called to his attention by the janitor, he has been very careful to take his shoes off when he comes back into the building.
When we track the mud of sin across the temple, God is the only one who can clean it up. When He speaks to us in His Word, He brings sin to our attention. He asks us to take our shoes off, for we are walking on holy ground. Just as we would never intentionally walk on the beautiful new carpet in a church with mud on our shoes, we must never intentionally walk through our lives, tracking the mud of sin around in our hearts. There needs to be respect for the presence of God in our lives. Oh that sin were as simple as cleaning up mud, but the only thing that cleanses sin is the blood of our Lord. Our sin cost Christ terrible suffering and His life. How can we be so presumptuous as to sin flippantly?
When our church had a Christian school, and I was a trustee, it seemed that I was continually throwing out junk that would accumulate. At one time someone used or intended to use all the items for something, but I would often find things that were broken, or of no further use, that need to be thrown out. I might find a prop used for a play performed the previous year, or an old worn out vacuum cleaner, or a bunch of boxes, or old broken chairs, or who knows what. These things can accumulate rapidly and will make the building quite cluttered and ugly even to the point of keeping it from functioning properly if nothing is done with them. When a person can’t walk across a storage room and get to the fire exit because of the junk in the way, the function of the building is being impaired. There is nothing evil about these items, but they just get in the way.
What do you have in your life that is hindering you from glorifying God? Are you functioning as effectively as you should be? Is your life too full of things that aren’t really wrong, but get in the way? Have you left any room for Jesus to do anything in your heart, or is it too full of other things for Him to be able to move? Don’t cling to the things and activities of this world and collect them, to the point that you lose sight of your function.
“…let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1b, 2 ESV
Jesus laid down His life for us. What would you not be willing to lay aside and give up to follow after Jesus? Has that thing become an idol in your heart?
Sometimes besides the building having clutter in the way, there may be things that are allowed to be in the building that attract evil. One day while cleaning out a closet used to hold art supplies for the Christian school at our church, I discovered a bag of dried beans. I suppose someone had used these seeds in an art class by gluing them to a piece of paper to make a picture. The seeds seem harmless enough, however, there was a mouse’s nest in the bag of beans and there was filth all over the closet left there by the mouse. I cleaned out the mess, and took the beans out to the dumpster. What attracts sin in your life? What things are in your house that cause you to be tempted? Perhaps the things in your house are in themselves harmless as a bag of beans; but what are you doing with them? What are you doing with your computer, or television, or music player, or your food, or money? If Christ were to look into the closet of your heart, what would He find there? Would He find the seeds of the sin of _________? Let God’s Spirit lead you to fill in the blank for your own heart.
What if I had simply picked up the bag of beans, looked at it, and put it back? That’s a little disgusting, you might think, to knowingly encourage an infestation of mice. But that is what many of God’s people do. They go to church, or read their Bible, and God shows them the filth in their heart, and yet they continue to allow a place in their hearts for that old bag of beans. They refuse to turn loose of their sin and get rid of it.
Christian, Jesus died to allow us to be free from the filth of sin; why won’t you leave your sin and ask His forgiveness? Maybe you have been arguing with your brother or sister in Christ about something. In the light of God’s presence let go of the seeds of bitterness. Let go of that thing that Jesus wants you to throw out. Get right with your brother or sister in Christ today that God might be glorified in your life.
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” II Cor 6:14-7:1
God wants us to live a holy life, not a life has the things of the world mixed into it. He doesn’t want us to be tied down to doing what unbelievers do, but rather to be free from the sin to which they are enslaved. The temple is no place for idols. God wants to treat us like family. Do we act like we are children of the holy God? It should motivate us to work at cleansing every aspect of our lives from the filth of the world.
Besides the care of the spiritual temple, we need to also care for the physical temple.
“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” I Corinthians 6:19
Caring for the physical body requires a great deal of discipline because the flesh often desires the things that would be bad for the body. We can not be successful in our own strength, but must rely on God to supply the discipline that we need. It seems that if I am borrowing someone else’s car, or a tool or something, I am extra careful with it, more so than I would be if it were my own. Look at the verse above. We are not our own. We are God’s. We need to be extra careful with the body we are in which He owns.
Does the condition of your bodily temple bring glory to God? God is not glorified when we do not submit to His control over the desires of the flesh. There are many studies out today about what is good for the condition of the body, and what is bad. We have the information about what is good; it is a matter of doing it. Proper care of the body is a rubber meets the road place to practice obedience to God and to glorify Him with our actions. Get off the couch and exercise. Drop the candy bar and reach for an apple instead. If we are to be effective servants of God, we need to be alive to serve Him. “Ye are not your own”. There is no excuse for laziness. It is not up to us what we will do with our bodies. We are servants of the Lord and must seek to do His will.
There is nothing that Satan, our adversary, would like better than to see as many people lost, dying, and going to hell as possible. He loves it when the lost eat the food of the world and die an early death before they can decide to get saved. He loves the way the food of the world dulls their minds so that they can never realize what is happening. He loves it when Christians fall into the same trap and die an early death so that they can not deliver the gospel to as many people as they might have if they had lived longer or felt better.
Not all food is good to bring into the temple of God and eat. Mankind has perverted some food from its original form so that it is not nourishing anymore. The food of the world is non-nourishing. The world fills food with unnatural chemicals. Much food processing is the world’s effort to appeal to our fleshly desires, so that we will purchase what they have to sell and maximize their profits. The best foods, however, are the foods that are still the way the hands of God made them.
One particularly ominous thing that is being done to food now is genetic modifications. When God created plants and animals, He set creation up so that plants and animals would reproduce “after their kind”. When God established the principle of “after their kind” it meant that a seed from a turnip would produce a turnip. Scientists are now taking genes from animals or bacteria, or plants, or whatever species they please, and putting them into different species. They are mixing genes between the species. When taken to extremes, the kind-ness of the species will become blurred because the species will take on the traits of many kinds. Genetic tinkering being done by scientists is extremely dangerous since they are violating one of the basic principles of life set forth by the Creator. God pronounced it good that each plant or animal should bring forth after its kind. For man to change this by giving the traits of one kind to an organism of a different kind is the opposite of good. Scientists have no idea what the ramifications are of feeding people food with corrupted genes. Mankind will never have enough wisdom to understand the future results of what he is doing when changing the biological life programming that God established at creation.
Think about the last meal you ate. Were you able to recognize the natural form of any of the foods you ate? How close are the things you eat to the original form in which God created them? Do you eat the things that God intended you to eat for food, or do you eat some kind of sugary chemical goop? I challenge you to look for things to eat that God’s Hand has made.
This book is not intended to be a manual on health and nutrition; nonetheless, there are important things that many of God’s people need to change in this area. Carrying around a large amount of fat caused by selfish overindulgence in the wrong types of foods does not glorify God. “…let us lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race which is set before us,” Hebrews 12:1 ESV
There is another area in which we need to be careful with our bodies if we would glorify God. The area of sexual purity. This topic is one of the main areas that Paul was addressing when he wrote I Corinthians, and particularly the passage in chapter 6 which tells us that we are the temple of God. How can we commit fornication and adultery physically or mentally in the temple of God, in His presence? He has bought us; we are not our own. When we are tempted with this type of sin and are in a place that has things or people in it that are tempting us to have wrong thoughts, turn the other way and get out of there. Verse 18 says, “Flee fornication.”
God not only tells us to run, but has provided a place where we can go. Right after He says flee fornication, God says that the body is the “temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you.” When you are beginning to be tempted to have wrong thoughts in this area, get away from what is tempting you. Imagine that you are running. You are running as fast as you can, everything is a blur, and suddenly you rush in through the door of the temple building. All is still. All is silence. You are struck by the awesome, shining gold covering everything. You think about what the gold means, how Jesus died to rescue us from sin; and you think about the price that was paid by Him. The brilliance of God’s glory shines forth and suddenly you find yourself falling on your face in the presence of God. “How can I commit this sin in your presence, O God?” you pray. And then pray that God would protect you from sin and help you keep the temple a holy place.
When we are tempted with this type of sin or any kind of sin for that matter, we can flee to the presence of God. Run to the temple. Flee to His side. Running to God is the opposite of the action that Adam and Eve took. After they had sinned, they ran away and hid from the presence of God. God wants us to come into His presence when we are tempted, not hide from Him.
Just as a building must be cleaned frequently to keep it looking nice, our hearts need frequent cleansing. When sin comes between us and God, our fellowship with Him is stifled. We need to examine our hearts and ask God to shine the light of His Word that we might be able to see anything in our lives that is not pleasing to Him. When the light reveals sin in our hearts, we need to be willing to turn from that sin and, ask God for forgiveness and cleansing that our hearts might be swept clean in His sight. Thank God that He has been merciful to forgive us.
“…holiness becometh thine house, O Lord, for ever.” Psalms 93:5b